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TSH Observations - 2020 Jan. 31st

Week Ending Jan. 31st, 2020: From Founder & Principal Mimosa Jones Tunney

A big shout-out to Committee of Five member Lauren Persico who led us in a terrific discussion on Tonality when speaking to children at our last Parent Enrichment meeting!  I feel like we are getting warmed up in these monthly gatherings, slowly trusting each other and feeling the kind of support we all need to be great parents.  Next month on Thursday, February 13th we’ll welcome Professor Rick Ellis.  Rick has been involved in the fields of early childhood and elementary education for 33 years. He has taught all grade levels even infants and has also worked in educational administration as a teaching coach/unit leader, mentor and administrator. Mr. Ellis was also trained in Reggio-Emilia, Italy. He recently worked for the NJ State Department of Early Childhood Education in creating the core curriculum standards.

In the afternoon Rick will be working with our Team on Reggio Emilia in our Studio, but come the evening he’ll be presenting to all of you about his extensive research on boy vs. girl learning.  How they learn differently and how we can support those learners as well as answering all of your questions.  Save the Date!


In rounding out the topic of Courage in January and our study of courageous humans like MLK and those that led the American Revolution, we read the book Stone Soup.   Stone Soup includes the moral of sharing, community giving and courage.  Our children created their own Stone Soup at lunchtime this week each adding a stone. Mom Stephanie Perry did a bang up job at also tying in the American Revolution (one version of the book takes place with soldiers) and announcing No Taxation without Representation.  She introduced the children to the food of the time, we ate in the dark and the stones she collected served as place cards!

Additionally our Upper Elementary class went on their first field trip to the East Northport Library to learn Library Science and research techniques.  Ms. Jade and Ms. Jen were terrific in setting up an American Revolution scavenger hunt throughout the library finding all the relevant authors and key players in history.  It went so well the 1st-3rd graders will be up next!

Courage continued for this last week with Ms. Janice and Ms. Cassandre creating a beautiful Courage Stick project whereby children can create their own messages of courage and present them to their friends when they feel like they are stepping above and beyond.  And Ms. Trish led Courageous Art!  Mixing music, dozens of mediums and wild imaginations to create one-of-kind animals from their scientific exploration of the Timeline of Life.  Here are just a few of those tremendous creations below.

When it comes to the AEC we’re continually reminded that it is never static.  Like any good idea, it grows, changes and improves along the continuum.  That flexibility is vital.  At the onset of the calendar year, we as a Team and as a School are focused onTonality and Totality- how we connect the dots in our curriculum and how we speak to children.  I wanted to share this passage fromJohn Gatto’s book Dumbing Us Down about Totality.  He was New York State Teacher of the Year before he passed away and was highly critical of our traditional disjointed curriculum.

“Everything I teach is out of context.  I teach the un-relating of everything.  I teach disconnections.  I teach too much: orbiting of planets, the law of large numbers, slavery, adjectives, architectural drawing, dance, surprise guests, computer language… what do any of these things have to do with each other?  Even in the best schools, a close examination of curriculum and its sequences turns up a lack of coherence, a host of internal contradictions.  Meaning not disconnected facts is what sane human being seek.  School sequences are crazy.  There is no particular reason for any of them, nothing that bears close scrutiny.  I teach students to accept confusion as their destiny.”

For the rest of the year and most especially in our 2020-21 year, a major focus for the School will be how to increase that connection.  To make the story of learning more accessible, to put less restraint and more intrinsic motivation into our days and to honor this relationship between educator and child.  There is another important component to Totality: all of you! 

Take a look at the list below.  These are our areas of expansion between January and December of this year.  If you have a connection, want to personally help us with a project or simply have an innovative idea… please send them our way.  We’re planning another community event for March, but that doesn’t mean there aren't more things we can do collectively day-to-day.   

  •  Find publishers to hear our book pitch the first week of April.  Random House is already in play.  We’d like to have more...

  • An increase in visiting professionals.  With Dr. Patricia Wright (the world’s foremost primatologist) visiting next month in connection with our Timeline of Life and Artist Peter Tunney (he designed the football for Sunday’s Super Bowl!) coming into town in March to work with the kiddos in our Art + Design Studio, we’re starting to plan our 2020-21 year early enough where we can host experts from around the country.

  • Our Kitchen.  Food is such an important part of our day.  Moving into our collaborations with local farms and produce providers as well as having more special events is high on our list.

  • Conducting meaningful experiments with Ms. Anna who in her own right has led many scientific explorations so Learners master most importantly the scientific method.

  • Giving Learners more choice in Project-based Learning and having them create companies that are profitable and can give back.  A podcast is next up!

  • Getting our Little Blue Bus into gear - we were swayed by the Rose Family to apply for the Electric Bus grant vs. purchasing a regular one.  We’ll see which way we go!

  • Building our new chicken coop.  This is already mostly built - we’ll have 12 chickens now! - but installation is around the corner.

  • Building our new Green House which can grow our flowers year-round.

  • Expanding our Parent Conference material into portfolios, offering our own AEC standards addendum and working on Student-Led conferences.

  • Expanding JAM to include a Debate Team, How Things Work (History of Objects), Robotics and offering a number of these items for a lower fee so more children can stay with us on Fridays if need be.

  • Organizing more community-based events so we can connect more to each other as parents.

  • Sports teams (The Blue Jays!) and other competitive events for our upper grades now that we’re admitting up to 8th grade including chess, spelling, math bees, geography bees and robotics competitions.

  • Continuing our work on Executive Functioning even in the younger grades (https://www.greatschools.org/gk/articles/executive-function-lens-to-view-your-child/?utm_source=newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_content=011920.4)         

  • Developing our Workshop room to encompass building things in-house: shelves, mailboxes, etc.

  • Examining innovative topics like the Fibonacci Sequence, space exploration, apex predators in environmental planning and tape art!

Finally… You should all know that we have a lot of crazy things that happen everyday here.  Children are small people… and they are learning to be human.  Although in my opinion they're more human than most of us.  They do however make mistakes and there are aches and pains to growing.  We embrace those mistakes.  Both when we make them and they make them.   However, we as Team get many more moments of bliss, of understanding, of caring, of humanity.

Here is their mastery of humanity just in the last few days:

Samantha came up to me this morning during Provocation for a long hug.  She’d never hugged or really even said a loud hello to me before.  I held her for 10 minutes and she was a dream.  So smart in knowing that to start her day she needed a little extra TLC.

I embarrassed our gymnasts this week by calling them up to brag about their 2nd, 3rd and 4th place finishes nationally in Texas.  They couldn’t do it!  They were the humblest people I’ve met in a long time!

Lauren always wants to remind me about the Bible.  I love that her faith is so true and she is so comfortable talking about it.

Outside from my window I saw Duke, Trinity and Samuel playing on the Monkey Bars.  They were so free!  Running, tagging, swinging… they were 100% in the present in their fun.  Man, I wish I could master that!

And Aspen who started only 2 weeks ago and feels like she’s been here for years!  If only we could as adults be as even-keeled about new experiences and people.

Find Out More: January Parenting Tips & January Family Engagement


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