by Mrs. Nina Lucci, Upper and Middle School Technology Teacher
Helping children learn and excel is the goal of juniors Sophia G and Maria P. Planning together since last May, they recently initiated MCDS' “Study Buddies”, a tutorial program for the children of Miami Shores Elementary. Meeting every Tuesday, from 4 pm to 5 pm, a team of Study Buddies will assist students, from 2nd to 5th grade, with math, reading, and homework assignments.
By Ms. Joanne Aronson, Upper School Science Teacher
In this Pulse blog post, we take a look behind the scenes of the first couple of weeks in Ms. Aronson's 10th grade chemistry class. Students were asked to think about their passions and relate them to chemistry. Following some initial research, students produce a 3-D model that creatively expresses the association they have discovered.
by Paule Ebrahimi, Director of the Learning Resources Program
The Miami Country Day Learning Resources (LR) program provides nearly 100 students grades 6-12 a curriculum that focuses on the same concepts and skills as other college preparatory courses. The differences in the program occur in the method of instruction and in assessment of students. To begin this school year, LR students, along with faculty and parents, participated in a two day Social and Emotional learning workshop.
On August 10th, in collaboration with the South Florida People of Color Organization, Miami Country Day faculty participated in an all-day diversity and inclusion training led by Dr. Tameka Hobbs and Dr. Michael Dentato from Loyola University, Chicago. In keeping with our sincere desire to embrace opportunities for discussions surrounding race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, and gender identity, the reflective and thought-provoking day training asked faculty members to, “Be comfortable being uncomfortable.”
When Mr. Walter Pineda, the Associate Director of College Counseling, was asked to describe the role of a College Counselor at Miami Country Day School in 30 seconds, he responded, “You are a cheerleader, a guide, a mentor, a sounding board, a mediator. You are whatever is necessary at whatever moment in time for a parent, student, or anyone else participating in the [college admission] process.” Together with Mr. Pineda, the College Counseling team consists of Marnie Allen, Director of College Counseling, and Marisol Sardina, Associate Director of College Counseling, who combined have over 65 years of service and work experience at Miami Country Day.
In Part 2 of this Pulse blog post, Dr. John Davies, Head of School sheds light about the addictive facets of digital and social media, multitasking and cognitive function, distractibility, and shares strategies for you and your children on how to manage screen time and disengage from technology.
In the latest school Pulse Blog post, Dr. John Davies, Head of School, takes a deep dive into the history of communication, the unprecedented recent shift in digital content and accessibility, the ramifications of online actions and habits by children and adults, and the potential physiological effects of constant digital connection.
In the latest school Pulse blog, we sit down with rising 6th grader, Matteo Storm to discuss his stop-motion animation film, “The Sphinx that Traveled Around the World.” Matteo shares how he learned about stop-motion animation, the inspiration for his first movie, the meticulous planning in creating a stop-motion film, and how he made learning more engaging and fun for his classmates by bringing a modern twist to the study of Egyptian history and culture. Be sure to watch Matteo’s stop-motion animation movie at the end of the article.
In the latest Pulse blog post, Middle School Social Studies Teacher, Mrs. Michelle Holcman, shares insight into the benefits of online and blended learning, and valuable online educational resources. Mrs. Holcman currently teaches an online high school course through the Hybrid Learning Consortium (HLC). The HLC brings together independent schools from around the world to provide an online platform for innovative learning.
At Miami Country Day School, we care immensely about the safety and security of our students. This includes creating a learning environment that not only ensures physical safety, but enables children to develop their intellectual, social, emotional and spiritual potentials. These potentials are at the core of our mission statement and are upheld on campus by the Creating Healthy Acceptance ‘n Global Equity Team (CHANGE), a newly formed organization centered on the execution and accountability of Diversity and Inclusion in our community.
In the latest Miami Country Day Pulse Blog, our Head of School, Dr. John Davies shares insight into spirituality, one of the six potentials of educating the whole child. He elaborates on the many components of spirituality including service to others, meditation and mindfulness, exploring and spending time in nature, and the scientific health benefits of spirituality.
In the latest Pulse blog, Isabella Ballesteros, a Miami Country Day Senior, shares her passion in giving back to her community in Colombia, and investing in the education of children in areas with limited education access.
In the latest school Pulse blog, we take a look at the MCDS Middle Schoolers' sketchbook projects as an alternative to traditional class assessments. Faculty members Alyson Greenfield, Terri Pasqualin, and Lindsy Seidel presented at the Annual Conference for Middle Level Education in Philadelphia on their Humanities Sketchbooks in sessions entitled, Show What You Know: A Creative Cross-Curricular Approach to Assessment.
In the latest Pulse blog, we learn about the aftermath of Hurricane Maria through the perspective of junior, Fernando Mendez at Miami Country Day School. Based on the conditions in Puerto Rico, which made transportation to and from school difficult for Mendez, he decided to come with his family to the states and enroll at Country Day.
In this latest Pulse blog, get to know Mr. C (or Coach Ruben), Mr. S, and Mr. B who teach our 3-5 year olds in Pre-K through Kindergarten. Below, they (the “Three Wise Men” of Miami Country Day) share insight into gender roles in education, passion projects, and teaching pedagogy.
In this Pulse blog article, we focus on Miami Country Day teacher, Nicola Garat’s incorporation of journalist, Paul Salopek’s journey through Africa and Harvard’s Project Zero into her 5th graders’ curriculum. She integrates the ideas of ‘slow journalism’ to teach the students how to thoroughly observe, a key part of being a lifelong learner.
In this Pulse blog post, Dr. John Davies, Head of School at Miami Country Day, writes about the challenges today’s college graduates face in the world of work and some useful suggestions to help overcome them.
In this Pulse blog post, we take a closer look at the dedicated security team at Miami Country Day School who are stationed around campus 24/7 to protect children, faculty, and staff, and to keep the campus safe. Our security guards’ dedication to safety is an intricate component to the learning environment here at Miami Country Day School.
In this week’s Pulse blog, Rashad Heagle, a Miami Country Day Senior, shares his early beginnings in photography and where he wants to take his passion in the future.
Rashad was returning from a cruise last year when he decided to snap some photos of the Miami skyline. His photos, featured in the Upper School literary magazine, Amused, were sent to the Columbia Scholastic Press Association. From these efforts, his photos were recognized as one of the Top 3 Photography Portfolios for a High School Literary Magazine.
Miami Country Day faculty participate in a wide array of projects based on their individual passions. It is especially important to recognize our teachers for their notable work, relative to this day and age, such as Scott Brennan’s photo essay on dead pay phones. The series, which features photos of dead pay phones in urban Miami areas, will be published in the Berkeley Journal of Sociology. Brennan is an Upper School humanities teacher with a knack for photography. He applied this skill to recognizing and capturing parallels between pay phones and more widespread issues in modern times, which he explains in the following Q & A.
On October 31st, six Miami Country Day School faculty members coupled with school leaders will embark on a four-day trip to Mexico City. There, they will encounter Miami Country Day parent Felipe Bautista and his family to learn more about their global business and Mexico’s history and culture. Along with Mr. Bautista, Dr. Yong Zhao, a world-renowned leader in education and policy will join the group to provide multiple lenses on the group’s experience. This vision of Taking Your Teacher to Work came to fruition through MCDS’ personalized learning coach, Terri Broce. In this week’s pulse blog, Terri shares her story and how this moment, this experiential journey for teachers, came to be.
Every summer, the Miami Country Day Faculty engage in a culture of feedback and professional growth. The program, called Pro-Gro, expects and encourages all faculty to enhance themselves by individually attending and presenting at conferences, participating in classes and workshops, and developing relationships with professionals at other schools. Each faculty member is first provided with funds to attend these programs over the summer. The faculty members return with innovative and fresh ideas that they implement into curriculum and pedagogical practices for the new school year. Below are some examples of the many faculty initiatives from the summer of 2017.
Every one of us has been affected by cancer in some way. In fact, 1 in 3 of us will be diagnosed with this disease at some point in our lives. The questions remain. How do we find a cure? How does a family tackle a prognosis together? In this week’s pulse blog, Miami Country Day School community members, Kay, a parent, and her son Jack, a rising freshman, share their story, together, as they reflect on Jack’s leukemia diagnosis last year.
I seem to be reminded about the reality and importance of failure a lot these days. Not long ago I encountered a quote from the 20th century Irish playwright and Nobel Laureate, Samuel Beckett. “Try Again. Fail again. Fail better.” I jotted it down in a little book I keep on the table beside my reading chair. A curious quote from one of the greatest and most successful literary figures of the 20th century.
“Creativity is as important now in education as literacy and we should treat it with the same status.” Sir Ken Robinson
On October 5th, Miami Country Day will kick off its inaugural John Davies Cultural Arts Series by hosting Sir Ken Robinson. Why Sir Ken you might ask? It’s true that he is a noted author, having published several important books that made the NYT bestseller list. Robinson is also an educator who served as a professor of arts education in his native Great Britain. He is also a world renowned speaker who travels the globe sharing his ideas about education. His now famous 2006 TED Talk entitled “Do Schools Kill Creativity” has been viewed online over 40 million times and seen by an estimated 350 million people in 160 countries.
The Greeks fashioned their classical understanding of aesthetics around the experience of beauty and how one comes to appreciate what constitutes the beautiful (i.e., think art appreciation). For the Greeks beauty could be found in the poetry of Pindar, the human body captured in marble by the sculptor Myron, the tragedies of Aeschylus, even the mathematical theories of Pythagorus. When I’m captivated by an AP Studio Art student’s photograph or listen to the Country Day Orchestra play Rimsky-Korsakov's “Dance of the Tumblers,” I know how it makes me feel. Now there’s a way of describing this understanding. Neuroaesthetics, which combines neuroscience with aesthetics, is a branch of scientific study that explores how our experiences of the visual and performing arts impact brain function.
At first glance there might not seem to be much overlap between the arts and athletics. Sometimes the two even seem to be mutually exclusive. One hears comments like, “That’s an arts school,” or “You go to that school for sports.” Recently, I read an interview with Tom Hiddleston. The popular English actor, who is an inveterate runner who loves to dance, commented, “Running is like dancing forward.” Hiddleston’s description was as a good reminder of the interplay between the arts and athletics and how often they are connected to one another.
A few years ago, my wife Rox and I visited the Altamira cave in northern Spain. Inhabited as far back as 34,000 years ago, Altamira contains some of the great masterpieces of Paleolithic art. I was struck by the natural beauty of the drawings created largely in black and red colors.
When I have the opportunity to talk to people about our Mission or the Center for the Arts, I like to remind them that the arts are not extracurricular activities at Country Day—they part of our Mission and commitment to the education of the whole child. In a recent conversation with parents about the Center for the Arts, the question of how the arts impact our children arose. Only the week before, I encountered an article in Education Week on the influence of music on the cognitive development of elementary students. I offered a sort of generic comment about all the research out there on the positive impact the visual and performing arts have on students.
I recently attended the National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS) conference in Orlando. A comment made by new NAIS President John Chubb really struck me. Chubb observed that a student in the bottom quartile only had an 8% chance of moving from the bottom 25 percent to the top 25 percent. Pretty grime odds, I thought to myself. Yet, pointing to the power of great teaching, a student with a teacher in the top quartile three years in a row has a very high probability of moving into the top quartile. The odds just got a lot better.
The capital campaign feasibility study we did two years ago recommended that Miami Country Day should grow the culture of philanthropy at the school. As a result, understanding and educating our school community about the importance of giving to independent schools continues to be one of my major initiatives as the Head of School. I was struck by a comment that one of our consultants made. She noted one of the true hallmarks of a culture of philanthropy is “joyful giving.” As I explored the meaning of philanthropy and how to grow a culture of philanthropy, I discovered just how much truth there was in the consultant’s observation. People give for many reasons ranging from a deep sense of altruism to a much needed tax deduction. Despite our motivation for giving, most of us, even when we give out of a sense of obligation, experience a good feeling.
Let us consider the following lessons from Sal Khan, founder of online sensation Khan Academy, to continue to provide the very best education to all of our students in this our 75th year:
Learning is no longer circumscribed by time and space. As physical spaces, schools will continue to provide valuable learning experiences for young people, but with digital technology learning can be 24/7 and occur anywhere. For example, our Middle and Upper School students have a Questia account that gives them access to an e-library with 75,000 books and over 9,000,000 scholarly articles anytime and anywhere they want.
Recently, I received a call from a Miami Herald reporter asking me what it meant for Miami Country Day to be celebrating its 75th anniversary. I explained how much we were looking forward to celebrating Country Day’s wonderful rich history. I also explained that the 75th provided a unique opportunity for Country Day to chart its future course and continue to meet the needs of its students.
One of our school wide goals this year is to grow the culture of philanthropy here at Miami Country Day. This goal grew out of a feasibility study conducted by Marts & Lundy last year in anticipation of a capital campaign to accompany the school’s 75th anniversary. No doubt, when L.B. Sommers and C.W. “Doc” Abele opened the Miami Country Day School for Boys in 1938 they could have never imagined that their little school, with an initial enrollment of nine boys, would be what it is today. No one factor can account for a school’s success, but one thing is certain: the Country Day our students enjoy today is in large part due to a philanthropic spirit over the years. Much of what we currently experience on campus would not have been possible on tuition dollars alone.
The title of the story caught my eye, “The Perils of Texting While Parenting.” After 40 years of a steady decline in child injuries, the numbers have begun to rise in the last three years. Some doctors and child safety experts believe that the culprit might be mobile devices. The Wall Street Journal article posed the question in bold print, “Are too many parents distracted by mobile devices when they should be watching their kids?” As I read the article I found the whole idea interesting. We’ve heard all kinds of arguments pro and con on multitasking. In terms of automobiles the research seems clear, digital devices and driving are a risky combination. But what really caught my attention in this WSJ article was a new term that I suspect we’ll be hearing a lot more about, i.e., “device distraction.” I won’t predict that it will become a neologism of our electronic culture just yet, but I suspect the WSJ article won’t be the last time I encounter the term “device distraction.”
In August of 2011, the administration agreed to create a “Portrait of a Graduate” as one of its school wide goals. All of the administration and faculty would participate in the process. The final product was important as it would be a benchmark of sorts to guide us in all kinds of decisions regarding Country Day students. Because the heart of our mission at Country Day is the education of the whole child, every aspect of our program -- academics, the arts, athletics, our philosophy of discipline, expectations of community service -- should contribute to this portrait. We would be able to take this document and point to it as if to say, these are the qualities or characteristics that define young men and women at the end of their Country Day experience. Moreover, the process itself shouldered great importance. There are a myriad of worthy qualities that one might choose to describe a Country Day graduate. Indeed, our initial discussions resulted in a list of 45 potential qualities, all of them admirable! Winnowing this list would be a difficult, sometimes soul-searching process. We weren’t looking for a laundry list of qualities that looked good on paper, rather a small core of characteristics that make Country Day graduates stand out.
For some time, colleagues have suggested that as head of school I should consider creating a blog to create more opportunities for dialogue in the Country Day community. I resisted, not because I’m opposed to blogging, rather I didn’t want to commit to a project and not do it well. As we prepare for another school year, I’ve decided to take the plunge.
Miami Country Day School is a college preparatory learning community committed to educating the whole child. Through the core values of honor, respect, wisdom and compassion, we prepare students to be lifelong learners. We inspire our children to develop their intellectual, physical, aesthetic, social, emotional and spiritual potentials by valuing every student every day.