Magic and Metamorphosis Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion The Power of World Languages - IN THIS ISSUE - Green Hedges School
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GREEN HEDGES SCHOOL FA L L / W I N T E R 2 0 2 0 IN THIS ISSUE Magic and Metamorphosis • Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion • The Power of World Languages
Clippings is a publication of the Head’s Greeting Advancement Office of Jennifer P. Bohnen Green Hedges School. Lisa Gibb Chair, Board of Trustees Jennifer Bohnen Head of School When we began the Blake Kohn GREEN HEDGES SCHOOL 1 2020 –2021 school year on Director of Development FA L L / W I N T E R 2 0 2 0 Urmila Oberoi Director of Communications September 1, I felt a mix CLIPPINGS | FALL/WINTER 2020 Katherine Vazquez Director of Admissions and Financial Aid Head’s Greeting . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1 of excitement, anticipation, Editor Ingrid Willenz-Isaacs Jenn Bohnen’s First Year . . . . . . . . . . 2 and truthfully, anxiousness. Photography Michael Branscom Grade 1: James Kegley Magic and Metamorphosis . . . . . . . . . 7 Head of School Jennifer Bohnen with faculty. 7 Urmila Oberoi Vanessa Vick Wonder Wall . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10 Katherine Vazquez What Goes Into Making As prepared as I knew we were for the start of an This school year also brings with it an exciting Design a Wax Museum? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11 unprecedented school year, there were still so many new strategic plan. “Our Vision of Wonder,” our Foret Design unknowns. Now, a few months later, we are in a 2020–2025 strategic plan, steers the School’s vision Grade 5: routine, students are joyful, and the faculty are for the next five years and we are grateful for the Threshold to Middle School . . . . . . . . 14 working extremely hard every single day to provide the work of the Strategic Planning Committee, consisting Families, Faculty, and Community: most inviting learning environment in this new world of Board members, staff, and faculty, who began in which we now find ourselves. I express my deepest this process in the spring of 2019. The plan addresses A Timeline of Mutual Support . . . . 16 gratitude to you, our Green Hedges community near four major themes: Invest, Lead, Design, and Tech Team Superheroes . . . . . . . . . . . 20 and far, for your support, faith, and trust. I hope we Connect. Accomplishing our strategic plan goals 16 have made you proud. began this summer and continues in earnest this Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion . . . 22 fall and winter. You may read more about the strategic Instrumental Music: Warm & Slow This issue of Clippings brings together the plan at www.greenhedges.org/strategic-plan-2020/. Makes a Better Sound . . . . . . . . . . . 24 extraordinary work of our teachers who began last fall in person and then transitioned seamlessly into Once again, I am grateful for the Green Hedges The Power of World Languages . . . . 26 distance learning last spring. You will see in this issue School community. I am thankful to work with Graduation 2020 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 30 how, as a community, we took an obstacle and not only dedicated teachers and staff members who care about overcame it, but thrived throughout it. their craft. I am appreciative of a supportive parent Class of 2016 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 34 community. Most of all, I am grateful for our students. Alumni News . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 35 We have many things to look forward to this school I love their curiosity and their joy. I know that we A Montessori student in the year. As many of you know, we began our Diversity, are going to get through this. But, it is going to take 19 classroom this fall. Photo is by Katherine Vazquez Gala Auction 2020 . . . . . . . . . . . . . 37 Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) work last year and a continued patience and sacrifice. I hope you enjoy committee of faculty, staff, Board members, and this issue of Clippings and best wishes for a healthy parents joined together to create a DEI statement and new year. envision a future at Green Hedges where DEI helps guide our work. Read more about our DEI work in this issue of Clippings. I am excited for this important work to continue this school year. Jennifer P. Bohnen, Head of School Your comments and suggestions are always welcomed and may be emailed to email@example.com. Green Hedges School does not discriminate on the basis of race, sex, religion, or national origin in the administration of its education policies.
GREEN HEDGES SCHOOL Jennifer Bohnen’s First Year 2 3 September 2019 Jenn Bohnen with Montessori students (above), and at CLIPPINGS | FALL/WINTER 2020 the Secondary School Breakfast (right). Excerpt of Remarks at Installation by Heidi Everett, Chair, Board of Trustees: Next, imagine a school that takes on the challenge August 2020 When Green Hedges School was founded in 1942, of creating a green, ecologically sensitive campus… the Kilmers sought to create an environment where we are creating a Greener Hedges School. Head of School Jenn Bohnen is in her office, where education can be joyful and where childhood can be she has spent most every workday — and some days cultivated. They invited students to think big and Additionally, imagine a school that enhances our not scheduled to be workdays — since arriving on question often. The Kilmers challenged the community current social emotional program to support students, campus. Her window overlooks the Science and Native to embrace new ideas and to be a leader in breaking faculty, and families as we are faced with the Garden, which is the site of creative writing, art, and down barriers by opening the school doors to all challenges of an ever-changing world. science projects when students are on campus. The children and celebrating the benefits of a liberal arts garden was the backdrop for Ms. Bohnen’s Installation education… That history and founding are still relevant Finally, imagine a school that makes certain that our in the fall of 2019 and for Graduation in the summer today as is the type of leadership that the Kilmers students have every opportunity to develop as excellent of 2020. Thinking back on the school year bookmarked exhibited — this type of leadership which also resides scholars, are engaged in the community, who know by those events, Ms. Bohnen answered a few questions. in Jenn Bohnen. When the Trustees first met her, and care about the community and the world beyond it was immediately evident her approach is to keep their classrooms. students at the center of everything. Creating opportunities for them to be known and engaged partners in their own learning. I remember a 5th grader being shocked when Jenn greeted him by name Your first year as Head of School has been even more as did Dr. Vernon Walton, Pastor of the First Baptist after meeting him earlier in the day as she stopped eventful than most school years. What stands out for Church of Vienna. It was a perfect blend of family her conversations with adults to connect only with him. you as you think back to that moment of beginning? and community brought together by Carolyn Brandon, whose Installation Committee created the opportunity. Excerpt of Remarks at Installation by Jennifer Bohnen, The year has certainly had its twists and turns! The Head of School: first thing that comes to mind about the Installation At your Installation, you invited everyone to imagine is how important the mix of people was to me as I several ways that the School could use its philosophical This is truly an important night for the Green Hedges looked out from the podium. Noelie Kilmer, daughter roots, dedicated leadership, and talented faculty to move “...imagine a school that makes certain community. Thank you for welcoming me with open of our founders and a visionary educator, along with forward. What felt important in that moment? that our students have every opportunity arms. Your words of wisdom and thoughtful welcome her husband Ed Angevine, who served on the Board demonstrate the wonderful community I have joined. of Green Hedges years ago, attended, as did Trustees, It was thrilling to invite everyone to share a vision to develop as excellent scholars, are I would like to share four strategic areas that follow faculty, alumni, and current families. Chris Leggett, of Green Hedges moving into the future. It also felt engaged in the community, who know and the Kilmers’ vision to ignite wisdom: an alumnus from the early years, later a Trustee, and solemn and humbling, thinking of the founders while now parent of a student at the school, spoke. My being in the presence of those representing decades care about the community and the world Imagine a school that increases our commitment to family came from out of town for the occasion. And in the life of the School and those representing our beyond their classrooms.” appreciating the diverse abilities, backgrounds, and there was support from our greater community. Mayor current time here on campus and in the community. cultures that make up the people of our school, our Laurie DiRocco spoke, and State Delegate Mark Keam The moment felt like stepping into the next part of — Jennifer P. Bohnen, Head of School community, region, and nation. attended along with several Vienna Councilmembers, our shared path, together.
GREEN HEDGES SCHOOL “It has been important to honor our roots in this regard — the Kilmers founded the school partly because of their belief in the importance of diversity. Now is a 4 5 good time, in the life of the school and in the life of our country, to become more intentional about carrying this work forward.” CLIPPINGS | FALL/WINTER 2020 — Jennifer Bohnen, Head of School Jenn Bohnen speaking to an alumni parent at a gathering last winter. And how did the specifics turn out? Of course no one Yes, it is important work. I imagine that the next area, Let’s talk about the third area you spoke about, Engagement Week, renamed and reimagined from could have predicted the particular challenges of the a “Greener” Hedges, was affected by the emptying of the social and emotional development of students. what had previously been Stewardship Week in school year that followed, but taking that into account, campus after spring break. the spring. Then the pandemic happened, and, what is your perspective now on what you described that This is very exciting too. We’ve hired a part-time in true Green Hedges style, the committee retooled day? Let’s start with the topic of diversity and inclusion. Yes, but we made a surprising amount of headway in counselor dedicated to being in partnership with once again. this area before then. Our students and families joined faculty and parents, and to support students in Throughout the year, faculty and parent committees with faculty members to do projects related to science becoming better able to engage with their academic Having had the intention of creating this series met which were devoted to this topic. We shared and social studies, everything from looking at how work, their peers, and the greater world. She of events that unfortunately had to be canceled gave stories and experiences that brought home in a very to reduce waste in lunch box packaging to comparing will be working with every grade level, addressing organizers a ready-made focus for reaching out to personal way how much there is to discover about energy use in classrooms across campus. We partnered what’s top of mind for the developmental needs the community in the first weeks when everything the experiences that we have as members of different with Eco-Schools for some of these projects, but our of the students, and some of her time will be spent changed last spring, maybe just when everyone races, religions, ethnicities… we also got into topics goal has not been so much to earn official credit for doing one on one work with students and parents. needed the connection and appreciation most. regarding issues of gender and some less obvious our work on campus. Rather, we have been inspired Families sent care kits and thank you cards to local issues, such as awareness of the health and dietary by their structure to continue looking at what we Green Hedges has always been about nurturing the first responders, hospital workers, and grocery stores; needs of some students, and how those affect social can do within our own context and community. growth of the whole person, so that while they are they created positive messages in front of their houses relationships. The Science and Native Garden itself represents young and when they become adults, our students have and apartments; made dog and cat toys for local an improved environment for the bird population a greater sense of personal agency, of using their talents shelters; and even completed online math problems Just before we switched to distance learning, we of our area. We teach students about the many ways in service to the greater world. Our Core Values are to unlock food for others. invited two Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion specialists they can have a positive impact on the environment, Achieve Distinction, Explore Opportunities, Inspire to campus to interview members of our school and that’s an important part of their education. Character, and Become Yourself. We’re happy about We also screened a video on planting victory gardens community and offer recommendations. We’ve started supporting these values in a new way. and another by DC beekeeper Bill Hahn who opened a book club, are creating affinity group meetings, and Yes! And it looks like the Garden has continued to up his working hives for the film. We have adopted will be taking a look at curriculum. Elsewhere in this receive wonderful care, even in the absence of students This leads us to the final area of growth you invited one of the beehives as a school and will share the issue there is more information about some of the on campus this past spring. everyone to imagine, engagement with our community. honey that is produced with our historic Windover initiatives that have come from our first steps. It has Heights neighbors. been important to honor our roots in this regard — the We have been fortunate that Math and Science teacher An important area! Thanks to the Community Kilmers founded the school partly because of their Matt Fisher, who was so instrumental in creating Engagement Committee headed by former Trustee and The culminating event of Community Engagement belief in the importance of diversity. Now is a good what the garden has become, has continued to tend it. current parent René Wilkinson, we initiated new ways Week was our #lovegrowshere Day, which involved time, in the life of the school and in the life of our And our campus crew, headed by the dedicated Rocky of partnering with Vienna community organizations. students and their families creating lawn signs country, to become more intentional about carrying Kidwell who has been here for years, has ensured that The plan was to have a number of events on and of appreciation and displaying them in their this work forward. the whole campus remains welcoming. off campus that would culminate in a Community neighborhoods on May 1. It was great to have
GREEN HEDGES SCHOOL a school-wide event that spread our message of caring “Yes, we have made progress, GRADE 1: Magic & throughout the community and it generated a lot 6 of enthusiasm. thanks to the amazingly strong and 7 How good that these events took place! It sounds committed school community we have. Metamorphosis like the goals you invited everyone to imagine last But good intentional work takes time CLIPPINGS | FALL/WINTER 2020 fall have made their way into reality. Do you have any concluding thoughts? and listening to many voices. It is an Yes, we have made progress, thanks to the amazingly ongoing process. I am so appreciative strong and committed school community we have. But good intentional work takes time and listening of the long-term commitment of to many voices. It is an ongoing process. I am so Lerner and Loewe. Ben and Jerry. you look out the window and see before, except that your teachers appreciative of the long-term commitment of faculty faculty members and families.” Opiola and Bess? Alan Jay Lerner your teachers outside, delivering and parents have talked to each members and families. And on a personal note, — Jennifer Bohnen, Head of School and Frederick Loewe wrote famous an entire box of school supplies other every second day to help you I’m grateful to have benefited from the special feeling musicals. Ben Cohen and Jerry and surprises! Pretty soon after get started, and then your teachers at Green Hedges, the support and caring that come Greenfield make great ice cream. that, you see your teachers again, listened to you, one on one, to find through daily in the way we treat each other. These No less spectacularly, Kathie this time on screen, and they are out how you are doing. Lots of are the things that will keep carrying us forward. Jenn Bohnen at the School’s socially-distanced graduation Opiola and Monica Bess create, helping you sort through that box teacher conferences going on! this summer. and deliver, magic as Grade 1 they delivered, separating familiar co-teachers. Imagine being 7-years materials to be used now from This spring, the individual old and unexpectedly not returning new ones to be set aside until later conferences Mrs. Opiola and to school after spring break. It this spring. Actually, things might Mrs. Bess had with students might make you wonder what is start to feel pretty familiar. It’s aresulted in a schedule change, going on as you try to take in the little like at the beginning of the the extension of daily snack explanations you hear. Suddenly, school year, when you didn’t have break. “The kids advocated for an assigned desk, and then you themselves, letting us know that did, and then the desks were in they needed a more leisurely rows. There is a gentle, step-by- break. They also helped each other, step evolution, only now your cubby and did independent problem is at home. You might miss your solving,” says Mrs. Opiola about friends, but you get to work and what the adults learned from the play with them online. Maybe this students. She is clearly proud of is not going to be so bad. them, and concludes: “They had been practicing ways of organizing Over the course of the next few themselves — it’s part of what we weeks, you look outside again, only teach — and we encouraged them to see your teachers delivering... to have patience with the changes.” a butterfly hatching kit! A secret Mrs. Bess agrees, and affectionately folder for making Mothers’ Day explains the goal that inspired the and Fathers’ Day presents at home... teachers: “We wanted to make shhh! Props for your class play! this year as special as possible for Meanwhile, your schedule has the children. It is a unique year stayed pretty much the same as in their life and we wanted them
GREEN HEDGES SCHOOL then it is a matter of responding to One unchanging mathematical when the butterflies hatched, each of honking horns. Along with the 8 children’s curiosity and extending fact about Grade 1, it turns out, is in their own time, the students academic learning and personal 9 the experiences we offer them.” that all the students are 7-years witnessed the profound change. maturation of individual students, The other, equally important old. Why is that important? everyone that day was celebrating component, is the relationship Mrs. Opiola and Mrs. Bess seized The culminating challenge of Grade the metamorphosis of young CLIPPINGS | FALL/WINTER 2020 the two teachers forged. “It on this fact to create high interest 1 at Green Hedges is stepping onto children into well-prepared was important to me to consult math lessons. Slowly, in the the stage as a class and presenting Lower School students. ‘The List,’ the curriculum outline gradual ramping up of learning a play. With that accomplishment, that enumerates the skills and that predominates their classroom, the children fully join their peers instructional units that should the teachers used the wonderful in the upper grades and participate to have good memories, to have be covered in a school year,” says number 7 to bring home the in the long-standing theatrical all the good experiences of being Mrs Bess. As the year went on, I concept of “greater than” and tradition of the school. Their in Grade 1, and not miss out on saw that we were able to accomplish “less than,” and later helped their performance marks the end of what anything,” she says. our goals by approaching them students find “7 ways to make 18” some fondly call “Theater Season” from a variety of perspectives. using addition and subtraction. at the school, and is always eagerly One of the things that helped make We negotiated innovative ways Best of all, that box of school awaited. Even as Broadway and the the year so successful for Grade 1 we would do our teaching, supplies the students received in Metropolitan Opera in New York students is that significant change building trust with each other, early spring included a pair of dice. went dark this spring, Grade 1 went is a feature, not a bug, of the and getting excited about how As luck would have it — and did forward with its theater tradition. Grade 1 curriculum. The Opiola well it all worked.” you know this? — the numbers Parents made costumes, uniform and Bess teaching team is all about of dots representing numbers on background scenery was delivered the important metamorphosis of As Montessori materials and opposite faces of each die always to each family, and students Green Hedges Montessori students learning strategies, predominant add up to... 7! The magical year the worked together to rehearse their and incoming Kindergarten during the first part of the school teachers wanted for their students lines. Not surprisingly, the online students into full-fledged members year, blended into the structure had its own mathematical magic. performance was a huge success! of the Green Hedges Lower of a traditional classroom day, Audience members were enthralled School. Each teacher has an the children and their learning Science was also amazing. There by the theme of selflessness ardent investment in the children’s thrived. In the spring, when new, were experiments creating presented in the play, and by the learning. Kathie Opiola brings unforeseen adjustments were photograms, handprints created poise of the performers. There was years of experience with the required, the same principles of using sunscreen and sunlight. One even a cast party, coordinated by Montessori method, while managing change proved useful. of the traditions of the Grade 1 year parents and featuring an ocean Monica Bess represents years of “We pretty much kept to the is observing the metamorphosis theme with sea life snacks. teaching using the traditional familiar schedule, with reading, of caterpillars into butterflies. classroom format. In this, their language arts, and math, plus Students write, draw, or sometimes Turnabout is fair play, goes the first year of collaboration, they the “specials” of Art, French, PE, make a movie that summarizes saying. So it was that, in a new created a joyful and thoughtful Library, Music, and Technology/ their science observations. With wrinkle on the Green Hedges bridge for students from different STEM,” says Mrs. Opiola. “We no possibility of establishing a custom of celebrating Teacher backgrounds based on two continued our Junior Great Books shared class experience around one Appreciation Day at the end of the components. One was what readings,” adds Mrs. Bess, “and classroom-sized butterfly hatching school year, Mrs. Opiola and Mrs. Mrs. Opiola describes as “starting we still started our day with our kit, Mrs. Opiola and Mrs. Bess Bess looked outside their windows where each child already feels Morning Meeting, and through all were instead able to distribute to see a parade of cars and balloons, confident in skills and in learning. that we continued moving forward, individual kits to the students. The and heard the thanks families That helps everyone relax, and extending our learning goals.” young scientists went to work, and shouted to them amid the sound
GREEN HEDGES SCHOOL WHAT GOES INTO Wonder Wall Making a Wax Museum? 10 How do you adopt a baby? How did words get started? What is the 11 hottest planet? 3 x what number = 23? A young Stevie Wonder turns from the keyboard, interrupting his piano rendition of Superstition long enough to face the camera through dark glasses. CLIPPINGS | FALL/WINTER 2020 These and other questions preoccupy the minds of our we are studying,” Grade 2 students, and have had their place this year says Mrs. Bayer, on the Grade 2 Wonder Wall. Not all of the questions adding that the “Oh hi,” he says casually, and for a few moments shares orphaned at the age of 12. These characters and others have obvious answers, even to an adult. You might timing and stories from his life. “I’m blind, but I got accepted populate the imagination of the viewer for a brief time, think that Mercury is the hottest planet, being closest process involved into Motown records at age eleven because I was so each chosen, presented, and embodied by a Grade 4 to the sun, but actually Venus, second closest, has the in finding talented,” he reveals with his characteristic mix of student. Welcome to the Green Hedges Wax Museum! highest temperature overall. If you are wondering why answers is humor and modesty before filling us in on the outline that is, you are becoming caught up in the twists and important. “We of his life, including his birth in Saginaw, Michigan, The Wax Museum is a Green Hedges tradition. It turns of discovery that guide the minds of the students, don’t want them his marriages, his children, the instruments he plays, represents weeks of preparation at the intersection and of scientists, artists, poets, and of all those to lose interest and his involvement in the Civil Rights movement. of Social Studies and Language Arts, normally engaged in a creative way with the world we inhabit. by answering Then, as quickly as it began, the intimate moment culminating in a live presentation in the Multi Purpose them too of sharing is over, and he returns to his music. One Room, with visitors going from station to station and As the keeper of the Grade 2 Wonder Wall, Jeannie quickly,” she says, noting that after the other, important figures from other times activating the historical figures that become animated Bayer knows that there is an art to tailoring the letting questions languish is risky, and places reveal themselves. Ernest Shackleton, long enough to tell their stories and then return to search for answers to the age and developmental as well. the Irish Antarctic explorer, appears wearing clothing wax-like repose until the next person approaches. stage of her students. There are questions, and there suitable for the deep cold. Anne Frank, whose Grade 4 teachers Katie Pluebell-Lord and Hank Mast are questions. Upon finding out that there is no Sometimes, having the teacher famous Holocaust diary was written act as guides for students choosing and whole number answer to how many times 3 can be pose questions is a provocative way to start a unit of while she hid in an Amsterdam attic, researching a character, eventually multiplied into 23, her students reach for the horizon study, and the “aha” moment comes as the students brings viewers into her confidence. helping them distill a main theme of their mathematical imagination, anticipating the become familiar with the new content. Questions J. R. R. Tolkien rests his pipe long in that character’s life and role of fractions and remainders in an active way, out and their answers also feature in other parts of daily enough to tell us that he went on personalize the performance. of their own curiosity. Then, when the new concepts routines, such as the Morning Meeting. Throughout, to professorship at Oxford and This process involves note are presented, these satisfy an intellectual desire for the Wonder Wall offers the students a home for their to writing The Hobbit and The taking from readings, mastery of their world. “We encourage everyone to be inquisitiveness, and a tangible expression of their Lord of the Rings after being writing a biography part of our learning community,” she says. “Helping teacher’s receptivity toward each student’s unique them find the answers is important, and what’s even interests and experiences. “I want them to know that more important is giving questions, and curiosity, a this is a safe place to ask questions,” says Mrs. Bayer, place of honor in the learning process.” reflecting on the importance of questioning in the development of critical thinking. The Wonder Wall is related to a device used in the Responsive Classroom approach to classroom By the way, if you do not have a Grade 2 student management known as the parking lot, which invites nearby to offer an explanation about the relative students to “park,” or make visible, their questions, temperatures of Mercury and Venus, here is the ideas, words of encouragement, and suggestions for answer: Temperatures on Venus, the hottest planet, improvement. The teacher’s role is to recognize and reach 870 degrees Fahrenheit, because of its carbon respond to what the students express, and thereby to dioxide-rich atmosphere that functions as an intense ehrlif - stock.adobe.com foster a feeling of community. “Questions arise from version of the greenhouse gas phenomenon. what’s going on in the children’s lives, and from what
GREEN HEDGES SCHOOL The Wax Museum is a Green Hedges tradition. It represents weeks of preparation at the intersection of Social Studies and Language Arts, normally culminating in a live presentation in the Multi Purpose Room, with visitors going from station to station 12 and activating the historical figures that become animated long enough to tell their 13 stories and then return to wax-like repose until the next person approaches. CLIPPINGS | FALL/WINTER 2020 Grade 3 research project is also structured through apparent in the State Fair and Wax Museum projects. a list of questions on such topics as engineering and “I am impressed by how well students use the skills manufacturing in a particular state, its ecosystems, and they’ve been building on in previous grades,” he says. Grade 4’s Wax Museum its natural resources. Along with strengthening their research and writing via Zoom this spring. skills, the students’ growing maturity instills their The closely guided State Fair process culminates in work with increasing depth and empathy. a presentation that this year also took place online. Parents and teachers, and some students from other The Wax Museum brings them into contact with grades, gathered as audience members in Zoom challenges such as those faced by Native American in the third person, and along the way intuiting for wax modeling as a child and created her first wax breakout rooms while Grade 3 students presented dancer Maria Toltchieff, the first American to gain something about each chosen character’s challenges figure, that of Voltaire, when she was a teenager in the interesting facts about their states and explained the international recognition as a prima ballerina, and and personal strengths. As time for the Wax Museum years preceding the 1789 French Revolution, would reasons for their chosen costumes. The well-prepared of aviatrix Amelia Earhart, who disappeared in her approaches, the students shift focus from third to particularly appreciate the question students asked students deftly fielded questions from audience plane at age 41. Each student’s chosen character first person, writing concise paragraphs from the themselves in preparation for their presentations: members, sometimes including extra information brings a glimpse of another person’s life, struggles, perspective of the historical figure, assembling a “Did I capture the most important thing about this they had not featured in the prepared talks they gave and achievements. Collectively, it brings the class an costume, and creating a trifold presentation board person?” What she might not realize is that when and pointing out their shoebox floats which displayed enlarged sense of the possibilities inherent in being with a collage of images they assemble online using a the historical personages tell their tales, it is the interesting facts about their state. human. It is a value Madame Tussaud would well computer application. culmination of a years-long process of the students’ understand, and is part of what has attracted us to wax learning. The youngest Montessori students at Green Hank Mast, former co-teacher in Grade 3, remarks museums for well over two centuries, bringing us closer This year’s Wax Museum faced the special challenge Hedges are already investigators, actively reaching out on the progressive sophistication and independence to people as interesting as Voltaire and Stevie Wonder. posed by distance learning. “Fortunately, students for knowledge and enjoying the discovery. Soon they chose their historical figures and found library books begin reporting their findings, and by Grade 1 they about them just before spring break,” says Katie study the life cycle of butterflies while continuing their State Fair Pluebell-Lord. Just as fortunately, supervising the own maturation as scientists and authors. research and writing process in a virtual classroom revealed the students to be personally engaged, In Grade 2 each student researches a particular empathizing with their chosen characters and animal, and in Grade 3 the State Fair provides an admiring those who overcame difficulty. Plus, it important subject focus. Teacher Anne Craig teaches was enjoyable! “The students brought their own Grade 3 students to use mind maps as they plan their personalities and humor into the research and writing,” presentations. It is a way of representing connected says Hank Mast, commenting on the fresh perspective ideas that looks like a highway map with branching of the young researchers. roads and smaller streets, and has the advantage of providing structure while also accommodating the Marie Tussaud, whose name is synonymous with multi-directional curiosity and interest of students. wax museums worldwide, would certainly approve of Mrs. Craig says that mind maps are a helpful step Grade 3’s State Fair presentations via Zoom this spring. Grade 4’s enactments. She, who began showing talent in teaching students to organize their writing. The
GREEN HEDGES SCHOOL GRADE 5: Threshold to Many students express similar feelings, crediting navigate as the Grade 5 year progresses. Mrs. Vagoun with helping them arrive at that moment. “I can’t think of a better way to raise And small wonder: she challenges students to surpass kids who can think for themselves, can MIDDLE their own expectations in order to succeed, and helps become self-possessed enough to talk each one feel safe enough to take new risks and grow. about subjects like race, religion, ethnicity, and world problems, and who can get 14 15 School The students’ speeches precede those from the Head comfortable with the shared process of of School, and because Green Hedges is a small listening, internally and to each other,” community, both sets of speeches represent intimate says Mrs. Vagoun. Her lessons focus CLIPPINGS | FALL/WINTER 2020 memories. The perspectives are complementary, on both content and process. She helps illuminating how the students have felt and how students listen with discernment, and they have been seen in a school where they are known, she teaches them to be intentional about appreciated, and supported. “When you went missing using and attending to non-verbal cues Grade 5 is a pivotal year, the threshold to from your Grade 5 classroom, which happened like nodding or clapping to encourage a Middle School. Teacher Stacey Vagoun acts quite regularly, Mrs. Vagoun always knew where speaker. Along with oral communications to find you — in Ms. Nichols’ classroom, teaching skills, the Grade 5 toolbox includes help as a skilled, dedicated guide for students our youngest students how to care for Coco [the with study skills and with other specific during this passage. One Grade 8 student bearded dragon].” strategies, such as hints for how to read a textbook compared to a novel, how to streamline chances with new experiences, and just as important about to receive his Green Hedges diploma What is the “secret sauce” that makes for this great note taking, how to use mnemonics to memorize facts, to do that safely. “They become more sophisticated, put it this way: “Mrs. Vagoun, thank you learning recipe in Grade 5? Mrs. Vagoun says it and how to annotate reading material. By the time they their conversations become more nuanced, and they boils down to two important things: communication are working on their final research papers, the students take on more leadership,” says Mrs. Vagoun of the for preparing me for Middle School with all and failure. have acquired many new skills. students she has watched make their way through those grammar worksheets and with the end Middle School and beyond. COMMUNICATION FAILURE of the year Roman Research paper. I never GRADUATION Many of the students come with wonderful reading “At the end of each school year, teachers share with thought I’d get through it.” comprehension, says Mrs. Vagoun. In Grade 5 they each other what strategies have been most helpful to Calling graduation “commencement” is a nod to improve written and oral communication, but the aim each student, so by September I have a good idea of the way this passage represents both endings and and the process go deeper. For example, she explains, where we’re starting out,” says Mrs. Vagoun. How beginnings. The first Grade 5 class that teacher “I begin the year with a case study regarding a slash does she use that information? “I think about each Stacey Vagoun taught at Green Hedges just graduated and burn episode of the destruction of the Amazon student’s academic and social emotional needs, and from college. “I love working with students this age,” Rainforest. The topic and its presentation often although I have goals for the class as a whole, my goals she says, “because they are very open, passionate about elicit an emotional response, and understandably so. are different for a child who starts out shy and one ideas, and poised to find themselves.” Listening Through conversation, we circle back to the same facts who may come across as a little brash. What I want to her, it’s clear that she has a continuing devotion but from different perspectives, examining extenuating all of them to experience is that this is a safe space to to her students’ development. At each transition, circumstances and looking at the survival needs of all think for themselves, and a safe space to take risks. from Montessori to Lower School, from Lower School those involved. As the conversation becomes more Inevitably, this means getting a little more comfortable to Middle School, and from Green Hedges to high thoughtful, we include ourselves in the complexity of with failure. How else can they test their limits and school, college, and beyond, students benefit from making difficult choices and we learn to respectfully stretch themselves?” teachers who impart knowledge, instill confidence, agree or disagree, taking in each other’s perspective. and prepare them to face challenges with optimism I, too, learn from these conversations. One of the The theme of creating a safe space for failure is one and resourcefulness. Each time they doubt their ability themes that comes up is that none of us can be perfect. that Mrs. Vagoun says carries through Middle School to “get through it” and land on their feet builds on How we work toward the good in a complicated world at Green Hedges. “This school is like an incubator,” their earlier successes. Mrs. Vagoun envisions this long is a question I hope my students will ask for a lifetime.” she says, explaining that the size of classes and the path forward for her students, and, as her first Grade 5 ability to interact with “teachers who really know who students take their next steps forward, prepares to The personal and communal aspects of communication you are,” makes Green Hedges a safe place to enter the welcome her incoming class next fall. are an important part of what students learn to early phase of adolescence, when it is important to take
GREEN HEDGES SCHOOL Families, Faculty, and Community: April 6–10 Parent Teas 16 A 2020 Timeline The abrupt metamorphosis of Green Hedges, and of much of the country and the world, has already taken place. For the sake of safety and health, the campus has receive was always a given. Navigating the “how” dictated by changing circumstances requires goodwill, innovation, and constant feedback. Devoted teachers 17 of Mutual Support stayed empty after spring break. Head of School Jennifer Bohnen and Assistant Head of School Lisa Pence host commit long hours to getting on board with new technology, preparing materials in new ways, and CLIPPINGS | FALL/WINTER 2020 online parent teas to talk about how things are going. helping students adjust. Ms. Bohnen remarks, “For our teachers, it is like going through the first year Some parents of the youngest students say that of teaching all over again,” and the adjustment is no their children have struggled with the changes. “He smaller for the parents. “How can we support you?” wouldn’t look at the screen,” says one mother, adding, is voiced in each direction, from parent to teacher “I didn’t force him.” Others report that their children and back again. The essence of Green Hedges, that January 24 were confused by the gallery view feature of Zoom, word community so often held up as a hallmark of which showed each of their friends in little boxes. the School, is tested and found strong. Parent Association Presentation Together, parents, teachers, and administrators Ben Franklin’s portrait flashes at the front of the examine what has been helpful and brainstorm how to One touching topic comes up during a conversation. Multi Purpose Room, with one of his famous sayings continue improving. “She is just starting to join small “My child misses the kids from other grades,” says one alongside it: groups online,” is typical of a trend parents report. For parent. Within two weeks, Mrs. Pence has organized adults and children alike, taking the changes week by a special event. On a Friday morning, faculty members Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve week, and sometimes day by day, is important. host cross-grade visits, guiding animated conversations me and I learn. and fun problem solving activities. Some adults use As parents of students at successively older grade levels short readings as conversation starters. Pets wander As she explains the reasons for taking the long view attend the teas, the particulars center on different through in the background of Zoom screens and smiles and allowing students to learn by trial and error as aspects of school and home life. How will the new feature prominently as students have an opportunity they grow, Dr. Heather Tedesco names three innate reality affect grading and report cards? Will it be to reconnect with each other across grades. It isn’t psychological needs of humans: possible to assign reading from books to minimize exactly like daily contact in the halls, but it is warm, screen use when not in class? Could breakout rooms comforting, and meaningful. Adults listened to the Competence give students opportunities for more personal contact children and responded creatively. Over and over this Connection while they study? And there are positives: “I love not past spring, Dr. Tedesco’s message, and Ben Franklin’s, Autonomy having to commute, and it’s great seeing what my kid help guide the way: Involve me and I learn. does day-to-day,” says one parent. Attending to these long-term needs helps parents make students more resourceful, she says, and helps children At each opportunity, Ms. Bohnen asks, “How can we cope with the expected changes of development as well support you?” In her question, and in the conversations as the inevitable unexpected disruptions. During this that ensue, a great strength of Green Hedges is evident. presentation to parents about fostering independence It is part of what Ms. Bohnen likes to call “The in children, no one in the Multi Purpose Room Power of Small,” the shared strength that comes from realizes that the challenges of daily life are about to personal relationships. What Dr. Heather Tedesco change significantly. The strong relationship between had preached, the collaboration between parents and parents and teachers will need to support students teachers that supports the development of children, during a sudden transition into distance learning, plays out in myriad examples at each tea. with families getting used to life shared under one roof around the clock while many parents begin working The shared commitment of teachers and parents to Dr. Heather Tedesco from home. continue the strong academic grounding students
GREEN HEDGES SCHOOL May 6 Parents Council of Washington Michael Thompson and Rob Evans “This is not home schooling; that’s voluntary. And resilient, and that transient behavior or mood problems online learning is normally something people prepare are to be expected. For parents experiencing their own for as students and teachers.” That’s how psychologists sense of disorientation and loss, they counsel extending and authors Michael Thompson and Rob Evans begin the same patience and confidence to themselves. 18 their online talk to the Parents Council of Washington, 19 a group to which Green Hedges belongs. They reassure The psychologists conclude their evening presentation parents, saying that although schools and families with a benediction. Referring to the devotion of CLIPPINGS | FALL/WINTER 2020 are participating in what they call “a grand online teachers and parents, they quote Mr. Rogers, who said, experiment,” the early data indicates that nothing has “All of us have someone who loved us into being.” They April 27–May 1 changed about the fundamental needs of children. encourage the webinar audience to pause and think of “You have to level with them. They’ll miss their friends. someone who has been such a person to them, and to #lovegrowshere They might be grouchy. Kids will need to know that imbue themselves with that good feeling. Then, naming Community Engagement Week parents love them and will do everything to keep them the wisdom and perspective of grandparents as a great Green Hedges School holds its first-ever Community safe,” the psychologists agree. What is important for resource, they counsel: “take a grandparenting pill!” Engagement Week from April 27 – May 1. Students and their parents to remember, they add, is that children are families participate in many activities from their homes including making masks for the Lamb Center, a homeless shelter, donating supplies to local non-profit Second Story, making cards and drawings for Sunrise Senior Living, and writing thank you May 8 notes for healthcare personnel at INOVA Hospital. The week Grandparents and Special Friends’ Day culminates with a #lovegrowshere Community Engagement Day in which students spend time creating lawn signs for frontline As luck would have it, the virtual campus soon fills essential personnel. The messages are intended to create hope, joy, with actual grandparenting energy, provided by and encouragement to those who see them. grandparents from across the country and from several continents! Ms. Bohnen speaks about the School’s The mission of Community Engagement Week is to provide founding and about the history of this day, which dates ways for students to responsibly and respectfully contribute to the to 1987. She acknowledges that this year’s celebration improvement of their communities, and this first-ever one was a is different, and gives details about inventive solutions has become a model for other schools. As a member timely and fitting one for the Green Hedges community. the School had found for supporting academic learning of an oversight delegation for independent schools, Making masks to donate to the Lamb Center. and resilience among students on short notice. She Ms. Bohnen notes that in its commitment to safety explains the difference between synchronous, “live” and best practices, Green Hedges looks to peer schools learning and asynchronous, pre-recorded lessons, and is studying European schools, tracking their giving examples of each. Guests hear about virtual experiences of reopening and learning from what they field trips; about a scientist explaining viruses to have found works best. students online; and about the students’ community engagement projects. The delighted visitors even watch “We applaud your philosophy and what you are doing,” videotaped interviews of Middle School students says one grandparent. “Please let us know how we interviewing their grandparents. can support you,” says another. Among all the adult constituencies, the offer of support reverberates in each There is also serious conversation, including questions direction, each time amplifying the importance of and answers about the uppermost importance of safety responsiveness and community. Ben Franklin’s “involve and about what would be required for reopening. me and I learn” is a good watchword for navigating Ms. Bohnen praises the work of the Reopening Task forward, for children and adults. Another quote from Force and notes that Green Hedges has been so Franklin’s Poor Richard’s Almanack comes to mind, as successful in its transition to distance learning that it well: “a right Heart exceeds all.”
GREEN HEDGES SCHOOL be integrated across grades, and As he speaks, Mr. Hutzler Administrators supported the TECH TEAM myriad other details. Head of continues glancing at his devices, transition to distance learning. School Jenn Bohnen orchestrated ready to respond to anyone who Lisa Pence, Assistant Head of School, the likely transition, putting contacts him for tech help. This describes what took place. SUPERHEROES in place guidelines that would help everyone in the early weeks and beyond. She implemented multiple channels that everyone, commitment to being responsive is shared by each member of the tech team, and it has helped the The administrators created a detailed Distance Learning and 20 community breathe easier. Teachers, Academic Continuity Plan which 21 teachers and parents alike, would parents, and students have been draws on many resources shared use to keep communication lines right to assume that whatever across independent schools and open and to maintain goodwill problem they face will quickly be is on the Green Hedges website. CLIPPINGS | FALL/WINTER 2020 during the inevitable glitches. resolved, sometimes even in real They updated the Acceptable Use Ms. Matthews describes the last time during a class. That the help Policy to take into account the day at school and the days that often comes not only with calm, new learning environment, again followed: “By Thursday we were but also with good humor and even benefitting from resources developed running our first Zoom sessions a feeling of fun for the process, has by many schools. with students. The students left helped immeasurably. “Helping Thursday with their belongings individuals solve problems on their Green Hedges hosted grade-level in their backpacks, prepared to own gives them confidence,” he orientations prior to the return to stay home if necessary after spring says, “and knowing we’ll be there instruction. During the orientations, break. Friday was teacher training for them has been important, too.” teachers, students, and parents Carl Hutzler trouble-shooting from his car this spring. day, and we spent spring break came together to review new putting everything in place. The Alison Matthews, who teaches procedures, expectations, health teachers were amazing, devoting Science and serves as Middle and wellness concerns regarding long hours to planning. By the end School Advisor in addition to her screen time and the need for physical Carl Hutzler does not wear a cape, spare parts to do repairs while learning looked like something of spring break, we were prepared.” role as Technology Integration activity, and the new daily routine. but maybe he should. Posing as parked in teachers’ or students’ we needed to plan for. Then the Specialist, has experienced this a mild-mannered gardener on driveways, delivered iPads, and did Monday before spring break, we Thinking about what made spring’s distance learning from In order to preserve a sense of the weekend, this technology general troubleshooting. He seems went into high gear. Mr. Hutzler everything work so well, Mr. the perspective of a teacher as normalcy and consistency and consultant is ready to drop his to have relished it all: “There were addressed two questions: Do the Hutzler says, “We didn’t have the well as in her role of integration support teachers, the Assistant watering can in an instant, day some people with router issues, and students have what they need, and problems of larger school systems.” specialist providing faculty Head of School continued to meet or night, and reveal his secret some other things happened that do the teachers have what they Noting that the overwhelming support. “We have learned with homeroom teachers on a identity as...The Man From Zoom!! we couldn’t resolve by talking on need? He made sure the answers majority of Green Hedges from overseas schools and other weekly basis and with Middle School What has earned Mr. Hutzler his the phone. I made videos for self- to both questions would be ‘yes.’ families were already connected online resources, including those teachers in their subject area groups. superhero reputation? For one help. When those were not enough, The teachers and I researched to the Internet and almost all specifically addressing the needs thing, he is a multitasking marvel. I showed up in my car. It was kind online learning resources, and I students had iPads, Mr. Hutzler of independent schools,” she says, To keep the social and emotional With an earbud in one ear and of fun.” worked with students so they could acknowledges the advantage “and we have made an effort to needs at the forefront and maintain his eyes occasionally scanning a practice distance learning skills. that Green Hedges had initially. make distance learning workable relationships, Middle School advisors screen or two, he maintains a calm, Science and Technology Integration We met individually and in groups. Beyond that, he credits the agility for faculty, students, and parents met each morning with their advisees thoughtful focus on his interviewer. Specialist Alison Matthews Those last days of school were a of being a small organization with alike.” Ms. Matthews concludes for a daily check-in. “Early on, I made some house calls,” could claim a cape of her own. whirlwind.” strong relationships, and the years- with a thought worthy of a true he says, remembering the zero to Thanks to her role as support and long commitment of the School to tech superhero, one of optimism Because the teachers had already 60 miles per hour transition Green consultant to teachers, she stepped That week, Assistant Head of adding technology and providing and goodwill: “From our work, established such healthy learning Hedges made to distance learning into the fast forward preparations School Lisa Pence pulled together training to help teachers use it we have been able to help others, communities in their classrooms during a week and a half last spring. seamlessly. As she describes it: a completely new version of class comfortably. “We didn’t know how to become a model for what from the beginning of the school year, During those days and in the weeks “Jenn Bohnen, Lisa Pence, Carl schedules that took into account these things would play out when can be done,” she says. “It gives they were able to transition well to following, Mr. Hutzler did some Hutzler and I met two weeks before things like how much screen time we had to mobilize quickly,” he us confidence for meeting new the synchronous Zoom instruction rewiring for Green Hedges families spring break, and once more the students at different grades should says, adding, “We were amazed at challenges going forward.” and classes. while socially isolating, brought following week. Going to distance have, how special subjects would how smoothly everyone adapted.”
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